A really long toss-off post in which I abruptly reveal that I know too much about sports betting
Out of curiosity, I looked up what the lines on teams are for this season and I’d like to reward you, dear readers, with some easy money tips. All lines were quoted at -115 either way unless otherwise noted. Please, no wagering.
Randy Winn signed a 3 year contract extension with the Giants today, covering the 2007-2009 seasons, worth $23.5 million. He’s under contract for $5 million this season.
So, for the next four seasons, the Giants are committed to paying Randy Winn $28.5 million. $7 million per season. Randy Winn, folks. Somewhere, Jon Wells is gasping for breath.
I’m sorry, but those who still believe that a player is worth whatever a team will pay him simply don’t understand the economic realities of baseball.
What a brutal contract.
Big news of the day: Kevin Appier may have one of the shortest comeback attempts ever. The PI writes his first outing was awful. See if you wince along with me:
If the problem is simply that he’s going through the “dead arm” phase many pitchers encounter in the spring, he’s got a chance for a quick rebound.
“There’s a fair chance it’s dead-arm time,” he said. “If that’s the case, you should see an improvement real quick.
Not in this organization, you don’t. Also in that notebook: Johjima impresses. This is echoed First in the Times. Shocking, what with it being Spring Training and all.
Also from the PI: “Versatile Dobbs puts in extra work“. Versatile? How so?
Matt Lawton talks about his failed steroid test and desire to move on after serving his suspension. (Times)
In the PI, Jim Moore continues to fan a fake Carl Everett controversy advancing the line that the essential problem with Everett is that he’s got anti-gay, creationist views. No link.
Also, John Levesque, who we’ve lauded and lambasted here, has written his last sports column.
…to change a lightbulb?
1: I don’t know, but about 30,000 a night show up hoping to see the lightbulb turn itself around.
2: Changing lightbulbs is unncessary for Mariner fans, who bask endlessly in the luminous goodness of Raul Ibanez’s soul. (props to Jonah for the idea for this one)
No announcement of the Ibanez signing. Presumably they’re working on setting up the parade and related infrastructure, like the platform where Edgar Martinez, gun held to the small of his back, will pass a fake torch while ownership applauds.
Former M’s cavalcade:
Mike Cameron (Moore, PI), Bret Boone (Stone, Times)
Guardado passes up WBC in favor of the M’s (PI), Pineiro does not (TNT)
Hargrove chewed out some infielders (PI)
Best read of the day is probably about Rafael Soriano’s relationship with pitching coach Rafael Chaves (TNT)
The best lineup it came up with was (surprisingly)
at a whopping 5.016 runs a game. Fun fact: in the “best lineup” section, Sexson bats 2nd every time and Johjima or Reed bats first.
Worst lineup, at 4.792 r/g:
Of course, standard caveats apply: we’re using the weighted mean forecasts, it doesn’t take into account L/R advantages or tactical concerns, much less player contentment. But it’s still interesting. If for no other reason than to think that using this methodology, the difference between best and worst lineup is .2 a game, which is over 20 runs a season, which is two games in the standings!
Still, the difference between the best guess at what the actual conventional-wisdom lineup will be and the ideal lineup is only .1 runs/game.
I’ll spare everyone my super-long rant about lineup optimization, but I find this stuff fascinating. And you know who gave us the idea for this post? Peter White! Yes that Peter White!
In the Times, Bob Finnigan writes about what the team’s doing with their shortstop surplus, but if you only read one article, check out Larry Stone’s great piece about former Mariners in spring training with other teams. This is why we love Stone so much:
On one side is the St. Louis Cardinals camp, where (cue the scary music) Scott Spiezio has resurfaced as a backup infield candidate. This may surprise those who believed, based on last year’s .064 average, that Spiezio would have difficulty winning a backup job on a high-school team. Never mind a pennant contender.
In various recent interviews, Spiezio has had the gall to intimate that his pathetic two-year stint with the Mariners was the fault of: a) stick-in-the-mud teammates who broke his spirit; and b) management that didn’t give him a fair shot; rather than c) an abject inability to perform.
The Times also reported that Ibanez’s contract will be finalized after they get the results of “a blood draw”. What could come back in that would wreck this deal — blood parasites? The PI, meanwhile, reports that the two sides are closing in on a contract.
Best quote from the Times article was Hargrove on yelling at minor leaguers messing up a drill:
“When you tell them, then critique the first two when they don’t do it right, and then they keep doing it wrong … ” Hargrove said. “Then, you got a little tired of it. Sometimes when a cow won’t let you milk her, you have to snap her on the head with a 2 by 4.”
Yeah, as a fan I feel like going down to Dunn Lumber and picking out a nice, solid 2×4 myself sometimes.
The best bit from the PI notebook:
Manager Mike Hargrove said he pulled Willie Bloomquist aside the other day for a discussion about his versatility — he can play any infield or outfield position.
“I talked to him and told him he was both cursed and blessed by that,” Hargrove said.
Also versatile: a 2×4.
The best Hargrove quote of all, though, comes from the Tacoma News-Tribune:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We all should have a bit of Willie Bloomquist in us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
February’s a short month — the first batch of the USSM Limited Edition shirts are about to disappear, never to be seen again. Do you want people to ask you about the traffic in McCall, Idaho? Do you want to support our continuing efforts to spread fear and suspicion, negativity and navel-gazing? Do you wish that there was some way you could clothe your body in a way that keeps you slightly warmer while also possibly reducing the number of “Internal System Error” messages you see on this site? Of course you do.
Thanks to everyone who has already helped out. Reports so far on the quality of shirts have said they look really, really sweet (thanks to the fine design talents of JoelE and Ambivalent Maybe).
If you’ve got ideas for next month’s LEs, or if you want to throw us a design for the shop, drop us a line.
Starting Center Fielder: Jeremy Reed
Like Jose Lopez, we’ve written a lot about Jeremy Reed the past year and a half. Like Lopez, perception of his abilities have been all over the board, as people responded wildly to performance spikes. After he nearly hit .400 in a September trial last year, the public opinion was overly excited, labeling him ready to be an elite player immediately. Following a disappointing rookie season offensively, the fanbase has amassed thousands of broken bones leaping off the bandwagon.
This is a case where perception just hasn’t matched reality. Reed was never the second best prospect in baseball, despite what Baseball Prospectus tried to tell folks. He wasn’t ready for stardom after a streak of singles falling in during his debut in Seattle. And, on the flipside, he’s also not a guy who can’t hit for power, is a poor baserunner, and amasses all his value by being an elite defensive player. The myths of Jeremy Reed have swung from one side to the other, but, astonishingly, few people seem willing to see him for what he really is.
Jeremy Reed is a high contact hitter with gap power, average speed, good instincts on the bases, and a solid understanding of the strike zone. He doesn’t have world class range in center field, and his physical skills are best suited defensively for a corner spot, though he doesn’t really have the arm to play right field regularly.
That’s all been true for three years, but because of extreme performances on either side, he’s become a polarizing player. Hopefully, 2006 is the year where people can finally see Reed for what he truly is; a very solid young player who excels at nothing but has a solid all around game. He’s not a gold glover and he won’t win a batting title, but he’s a talented player making the league minimum and filling a hole at a premium position. Oh, and he’s just 24 years old. We should all be glad the Mariners didn’t deal him.
Reed demonstrates a larger phenomenon we see a lot in players, which is the “star or scrub” polarizing effect. Few players are allowed to be just good, or okay: they have to have something they do that’s excellent, or they must be vilified. You see this most often with position players: a catcher who doesn’t hit very well will gradually cultivate reputations as defensive wizards, while those that can hit become barely competent glove men.
This is Reed’s problem: he comes in to play center and there’s no way he’ll be as good defensively as Cameron was. At the same time, his hitting was pretty awful, so he ended up being attacked from both sides.
Which means he must totally suck. There’s no room for players who are cheap and help the team out if they’re not definately good one way or the other. And that, really, is Reed’s misfortune. If he hits .280 with better walks, he’ll get out from a lot of the criticism for not helping offensively, but he still won’t be seen as a key contributor, because he’s not going to be a good fielder either. But being average, young, and cheap helps the team a lot.
There’s a way out of this, though — if Reed can do even better making contact, he becomes a quite valuable player quite quickly. He’s fast enough running that if he gets his average up to .300 he’ll hit 30 doubles pretty easily, and then you’d really like to have him hitting in front of some high-average guys (maybe ninth, ahead of Ichiro) to get the most value from that.
But that’s beside the point. Reed, even as an average center fielder, is worth a lot to the team. Adam Jones is great and all, but he’s not going to be here this year for certain (and despite the justified enthusiasm for his performance in the minors, if you look at his five-year forecast, he doesn’t develop into the kind of player Reed is now for a couple of years).
Reed’s here now, and he’s fine. He’s certainly not a problem for the team. He might want to talk to his agent about trying to cultivate an image as a joker, or a dirt dog, or something — if he had some kind of easily-identifiable hook other than (as you note) failed super-prospect, I think he’d be forgiven for not being amazingly awesome. And he deserves that.
I have no issue with Jeremy Reed. My only issue with his 2005 season? That Mike Hargrove chose to sit him against lefties on a number of occasions — while it’s true Reed struggled mightily against left-handers, the team wasn’t going anywhere anyway and he’s a young player who needs experience. But I digress.
Given his minor league numbers and the tools Dave mentioned earlier — gap power, contact hitter, solid strike zone judgement — Reed appears, to me at least, to be in line for a big step forward in 2006. I’d stick him in the #2 slot in batting order and leave him there for a few months even if he gets off to a slow start, because I can’t imagine he has another .254/.322/.352 season in him. Making nearly the major league minimum, playing solid defense, and hitting .280/.350/.440, he’s the sort of player you’re thrilled to have around.
At least until Adam Jones is ready.
Adam Jones, by the way, is a good prospect, clearly the second best guy in the organization behind Jeff Clement. But I think as fans we’ve been far too quick to write his name into the 2007 line-up. The guy has played less than a handful of games in center field, and while his offensive performance was solid, he’s still got a ways to go. The potential is definitely there, but he’s not knocking on the door. He’s a ways off, and a lot can go wrong before he hits the show. There’s no way I’d be making any kind of roster decisions in trying to make room for Adam Jones. When he’s ready, they’ll find a spot for him, but he’s still a pretty high risk prospect, and there’s a significant chance that he won’t be ready for quite a while.